Archive for June, 2016
Thursday, June 30th, 2016
I’m going to be at Westercon 69 this weekend. If anybody out there plans to be there, here’s where I’ll be:
Diana Pharaoh Francis Reading
Fri Jul 1 4:00:pm – 4:30:pm
Fri Jul 1 5:00:pm – 6:00:pm
Get your goodies signed!
Cat Rambo, Diana Pharaoh Francis, James Glass
Saturday 10am Kaffeeklatsch
Sat Jul 2 10:00:am – 11:00:am
Small group discussions with authors, artists, and other interesting personalities (referred to as “hosts”). Sessions are limited to the host and a small group of attendees.
Anthony Pryor, Carol Berg, Curtis Chen, David D. Levine, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Morris Allen, Sonia Lyris
Sat Jul 2 3:00:pm – 4:00:pm
Is this science fiction, fantasy, or horror? Whatever it is, fans love it! Learn what makes paranormal romance unique from other genres and the inspiration for writing them.
Diana Pharaoh Francis, Gwen Callahan, Janet Borkowski, S. A. Bolich
Physical Intuition and the Suspension of Disbelief
Sat Jul 2 4:00:pm – 5:00:pm
Readers want to suspend their disbelief in our improbable scenarios, but one violation of their physical intuition is all it takes to lose their trust forever. How do we keep it feeling real, even when the impossible is happening?
Blythe Ayne, Devon Monk, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Lindsay Schopfer
Sat Jul 2 8:00:pm – 9:00:pm
Small group discussions with authors, artists, and other interesting personalities (referred to as “hosts”). Sessions are limited to the host and a small group of attendees.
Diana Pharaoh Francis
Fantasy In the City
Sun Jul 3 10:00:am – 11:00:am
With the rise of popularity in urban-based fantasies, so increases the complexity of storytelling. Sure, you know what’s happening in a modern world. But does including a fantastical element have its own challenges? Discuss the challenges of writing fantasy in a modern setting, and how the different choices made by authors influenced their stories.
Diana Pharaoh Francis, Jennifer Willis, Mike Kabongo, Rhiannon Held
One Man’s Villian Is Another Man’s Hero
Sun Jul 3 1:00:pm – 2:00:pm
Swirling mustaches and obvious evil plans are a thing of the past. Today’s villains and heroes are as complicated as the world we live in. Discuss with our panelists what makes the difference between villain vs hero, and how thin that line can be.
Carol Berg, Devon Monk, Diana Pharaoh Francis
Sex Scenes in Writing
Sun Jul 3 5:00:pm – 6:00:pm
Sex is a part of life, and an aspect we can use to learn many things about a character. Are they chatty in bed, or kinky, or do they prefer the lights off? All are insights that help a reader relate to the characters. But does sex ‘need’ to be in your writing? Let’s discuss what sex in writing means and whether it needs to be in your novel.
Diana Pharaoh Francis, Mike Moscoe, Rhiannon Held, Sienna Saint-Cyr
Publishing Coops: The BookView Cafe
Mon Jul 4 11:00:am – 12:00:pm
The BookView Cafe has grown from midlist writers wanting to increase their web presence to a publisher of new and back list fiction and non-fiction. With over 50 members like Ursula K. LeGuin and Vonda N. McIntrye, no one shoulders more work than they can handle.
Diana Pharaoh Francis, Sara Stamey, Shannon Page
Monday, June 27th, 2016
I’m trying to write a non-fantasy romantic suspense. Sort of a side thing for fun and relaxation. This is my current beginning. Very rough. All the same, I need to know: What do you think? Seriously, what do you think?
He was on his way home just after midnight on a Thursday night when the call came through. A disturbance at Utopia, Trinity’s new night club and restaurant. Injuries onsite, ambulances needed. Chase was only a couple miles away and tired as he was, he wasn’t in the mood to go home yet. It wasn’t as if anybody was waiting for him.
Troopers had beaten him there. Flashing emergency lights strobed across the parking lot. People stood in groups or perched on the hoods of cars, watching the action. Not that there was any action to see, as far as Chase could tell.
He parked, leaving his suit jacket in the car. He paused to avoid the ambulance that rolled through the parking lot and up to the front doors of the club side entrance. A second one turned in a few seconds later, blowing past him in a cloud of diesel.
Chase drew a tired breath and let it out. What was he doing here? He should go home and get some sleep. He had a meeting with Sloan and Rossitch at 8:30 in the morning. He grimaced at himself. Who was he kidding? Even if he went home, he’d be lucky to get three hours of sack time. He’d flip channels on the idiot box while he ate, then he’d spend an hour or two banging his head against the Shore murder. Four years and he still didn’t have the killer. Not that he was allowed to investigate it anymore, at least, not officially, anyway. He shook his head, putting his frustration aside. Things on the trafficking case were heating up. That’s what the meeting was about. Once that was cleared, he could get back to work on the murder.
Chase rubbed a hand over the stubble on his jaw, still wavering. He hadn’t been inside Utopia yet. Now was as good a time as any to check the place out. His stomach rumbled. That decided him. Maybe the kitchen was still open and he could get a burger. All his refrigerator held was beer and frozen dinners. He didn’t doubt both were better here.
“Hey, Lieutenant, what’s homicide doing here?” Jason Thomas stepped away from the woman he was interviewing and reached out a hand to Chase as he approached. He was young, maybe twenty four. He was sharp, though, and ambitious. He planned to make detective by the time he was twenty five. Probably would, too. Chase liked him, even though at thirty one he felt like the kid’s grandfather. The downfalls of working homicide. No innocence left.
“Was heading home. Heard the call and figured I’d have a look around, maybe see if they were still serving food. What’s the situation?”
Thomas shook his head. “Domestic disturbance. Husband’s drunk and shooting pool, the wife is a cocktail waitress. He decides she’s flirting with the customers and goes after her with a pool cue. The manager yanks her out of the way before he can crush his wife’s skull, though the manager took a hard hit to her shoulder. The husband gets hotter and starts throwing punches. Customers and the bouncers take him down. Hard. He’s got a busted nose and maybe a broken wing.
Chase nodded without any sympathy for the bastard. He got what he deserved, attacking his fucking wife. He was probably lucky to have her.
“Good work, Thomas. I’ll leave you to it,” he said. The Trooper grinned at the praise. God, had he ever been that young?
He left Thomas to get statements and wandered up toward the club entrance. Tall pillows held up a broad overhang. Beneath danced a fountain. Not too long ago, the place had been a car dealership. The guy who owned it decided to divorce his wife, probably trader her in a newer model. It had been ugly. Her father owned the land the dealership was on and had kicked the husband off the property. The building sat vacant for awhile before someone had bought it to turn into a restaurant and club. From the looks of it, they’d done a good job. Word was that the food was good, too.
The old showroom was now the restaurant, with the bar housed in the repair bays. The exterior had been covered in a rock façade, with lush trees and flowers sending up a sweet, rich fragrance. White firefly lights wrapped the front pillars, outlined the windows, and layered the roof in a pattern like fish scales. A six foot iron fence with spikes along the top surrounded the outside the rollup bay doors like a large, flagstone-paved corral. Within was a covered stage, picnic tables, a dance area, and a barbecue pit. The stage was dark and the pit was cold tonight. Maybe it was a weekend thing.
The June night was warm and one of the bay doors had been rolled up. Inside, Chase could see pool tables and red-tile floors. Customers still shot balls, uninterested in the drama outside.
The scent of cooking meet wafted out to meet him as he drew close to the entrance. His gaze continued to rove over the spectacle outside, taking in the faces and other details.
Lightning thrust through the center of his chest. What the hell was she doing here?
Chase stopped dead, hard gaze locked on her. Four years since her mother’s murder, three and a half since he’d last seen her. Then she’d been pinched and washed out, her beauty hidden under the drab blanket of hard grief. Now–
She was a wet dream walking. Sunstreaked dark hair framed her face. Tanned skin smoothed over high cheekbones, a strong nose, and narrow chin. His gaze ran greedily over her. Her curves had firmed and her body was lithe and lean except for her breasts. They rode high and full beneath her vest and shirt. The last few years had turned tempered her. She held herself with assurance and confidence, like she didn’t take shit. His chest tightened as her wide, full mouth broke into a smile as she looked up at the paramedic. What the fuck? Was she hurt?
Chase didn’t think. His legs started moving before he knew what he wanted to do. He thrust through the rubberneckers, making a beeline for her.
Behind him, someone complained in protest, but Chase didn’t slow down. He couldn’t have stopped if he’d wanted to.
Friday, June 24th, 2016
In the past day or so, I’ve researched sepsis, the symptoms, how you get it, and how long it takes to kill you. (Don’t get it, by the way, it really sucks hard.) I’ve also researched breaking out side windows in trucks using your feet. I’ve researched snub nosed .38 revolvers and whether or not someone can get to their feet with their feet and hands bound with duct tape. I’ve researched switchblades, spring-assisted knives, and butterfly knives. Oh, and gravity knives. I’ve discussed knives that are spring loaded and can open out the front and put an eye out. I’ve also looked into what law agencies do what and I’ve looked into human and sex trafficking.
Writers live interesting lives.
Thursday, June 23rd, 2016
I am owned by dogs. I admit this. Corgi boys. They pretty much make me do whatever they want. Lately, they hear sirens and they want to howl. But it isn’t enough that they howl by themselves. Oh, no. They come running to me and no matter what I’m doing, I have to stop and howl with them. If I don’t, they bark at me until I do. So then I howl (I don’t even want to know what kind of crazy this makes me look like), and then when they decide they are done, they stop and I must pet them to soothe . . . I don’t even know what I’m soothing, but it’s needed.
And a snippet from the WIP, because it seems like a good time for it, from the current Diamond City Magic book:
I held out my hand. “Just give me my fucking phone.”
We played who-would-blink first game and he went down. I’m nothing if not stubborn. I was the champion in the family. Tiny dug in his back pocket and produced my burner phone.
I punched in Taylor’s number. She answered on the first ring.
“I need to talk to Touray.”
Silence met my announcement. But where Jamie and Leo would have badgered me for information, Taylor stuck to business. “He’s gone. I’ll text his number. Give me a second.”
The phone went dead. A few seconds later, the blue message light began blinking. I dialed the number. My mouth was oddly dry. For some reason, I was nervous.
He picked up just as fast as Taylor had. “Touray,” he growled.
“Riley,” I said.
His shock lasted about a split second. “Where the hell are you? Is Clay all right? What’s going on?”
“We’re with a potential . . . partner,” I said.
I could feel his attention sharpening, drilling through the phone. I resisted the urge to take a step back. Like that would help. “Partner?”
“He wants to take control of Calavera,” I said. “Clean it up, get rid of the bad eggs and restore the community.”
“What the fuck is going on, Riley? Because I don’t have time for this shit. The city is wrecked and your father–”
A chill ran up my spine and my stomach knotted. “Vernon? What’s he done?”
‘That is what I’m trying to figure out, which is why I don’t have time for this.”
“Would you have more time if I told you we’re sort of captives and Price has a broken leg? We’re negotiating help.”
Touray’s voice went molten and quiet. I’ll admit I cringed a little and was very glad he was not in the same room. I glanced around the dingy walls that had been white and now were gray with age and dirt. I half expected to see him appear out of nowhere. He was a traveler.
“You know about the trace job?”
“I am aware that you took one. I do not know the details beyond the fact that you’re looking for a teenage girl.” His words were carefully clipped and formal, and I could hear the taut wire of his patience stretching thinner with every second.”
“Story short: missing girl lured by a known rapist and and killer holed up in Calavera. We got jumped, captured, and Price’s leg broke. We need a tinker and some manpower, and Tiny here is willing if the trade is worth it. Maybe you should hear his terms,” I added and passed the phone over to Tiny before Touray could ask anything else.
“Hello?” Tiny said warily into the phone.
The room pulsed and crackled with sudden magic. Neither Price nor Tiny would be able feel it. “Shit,” I said and then a furious Gregg stepped out of nowhere and trained his gun on Tiny.
Monday, June 20th, 2016
There’s something magic about the solstice and on top of that, a full moon, too. For me, it’s all stirred into the fact that today is my birthday. I don’t have big plans. Mostly to write and to catch up on stuff I’m behind on. And pet dogs, because yanno, dogs and cute. And read. I think I’d like to read. I’ve been on a romantic suspense kick. Laura Griffin is my current favorite, but have had recommendations of other writers I”m working on trying out. Oh! And another birthday!!!
Devon Monk’s new book, Death and Relaxation, hits the shelves today! You should check it out. I’m thinking it’s an excellent birthday present for me. Hey! That’s what I can read today! Yes, I’m a little slow on the uptake today.
I finished proofing all the Path books for their ebook reissue. I have to say that I was happily surprised. First, that they were really good. So I haven’t read these since I wrote them. I have always feared that they weren’t that strong. But I was really happy with them. I loved what I did with the characters and how they grew and changed. I really liked the narrative layering in the last book. It reminded me that that’s okay to do. I know, that’s weird. But I’ve been deliberately avoiding too many points of view. And by too many, I’ve been stopping at two. But if I do it well, I can get away with a lot more of them. And it makes the book a lot richer. This is what I needed to remember for the last Crosspointe book, and maybe for this Diamond City Magic book I’m working on right now.
The second thing that surprised me was how well they held up. It shouldn’t be that surprising, really. They are traditional fantasy, so the decade+ since their release hasn’t aged them in terms of cultural references. But I am proud of them. Really proud of them. I want to tell everybody to read them.
Thursday, June 16th, 2016
Did you think I fell off the face of the earth? Almost. I received proofs for all the Path books and have to read and proof in a little over a week. I’m done with Fate and Honor, and partly into Blood. Then the kids had their last couple weeks of school and we’ve been having some family issues that I won’t talk about here, but suffice it to say, the focus has been on those.
Then the Orlando massacre happened and I was lost at sea for a bit. What I know is this: hate is wrong. We need to care about each other. We need to be generous, charitable, and tolerant. We need to accept that no everyone will agree with us, but that doesn’t mean those who do deserve violence and death. We are a country built around tolerance and the urge to escape persecution. Let us live by our values. Let us talk to one another, accept each other, help each other, protect each other.
I’ll be at Westercon 69 in Portland over fourth of July weekend. Here’s my schedule. I’d love to have a chance to meet with you.
Other than that, things are going along well. And because you may have not noticed, up there on the Books Tab, you’ll see a Free Reads menu item. Go there for some short stories you might enjoy.
I’ve also got a post up today on Magical Words if you’re interested.
Sunday, June 5th, 2016
I’ve been wanting to try yoga. Only I’m not sure what the best place to start is. Considering I’m way out of shape. But the real problem right now is I can’t do anything that involves my wrists until the sprains heals. But I wondered if there was anything I could do now that might start me learning. Thoughts?
Friday, June 3rd, 2016
Both of these books came from Netgalley.
First, the good. I’ve read some Janet Evanovich before, but I’m not a regular reader. I have enjoyed her stuff, though, and I thought Curious Minds, by Evanovich and Phoef Sutton, sounded fun. This is the back cover copy:
Emerson Knight is introverted, eccentric, and has little to no sense of social etiquette. Good thing he’s also brilliant, rich, and (some people might say) handsome, or he’d probably be homeless. Riley Moon has just graduated from Harvard Business and Harvard Law. Her aggressive Texas spitfire attitude has helped her land her dream job as a junior analyst with mega-bank Blane-Grunwald. At least Riley Moon thought it was her dream job, until she is given her first assignment: babysitting Emerson Knight.
What starts off as an inquiry about missing bank funds in the Knight account leads to inquiries about a missing man, missing gold, and a life-and-death race across the country. Through the streets of Washington, D.C., and down into the underground vault of the Federal Reserve in New York City, an evil plan is exposed. A plan so sinister that only a megalomaniac could think it up, and only the unlikely duo of the irrepressibly charming Emerson Knight and the tenacious Riley Moon can stop it.
Emerson Knight is a kick. He reminds me a little of the TV version of Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock, except much more endearing. He’s rich and totally eccentric and so is his family and house. Emerson is determined to actually see the gold he’s invested his money in. He doesn’t really have a reason, he just wants it. But Riley is sent to convince him otherwise. Soon they discover her boss and family are carrying out a plot to take over the world.
Now, this book should have been ridiculous. The plot–well, come on. Take over the world? But it works. Mostly because Evonavich and Sutton don’t take themselves or the story too seriously. There’s a lot of tongue-in-cheek. The story is a bit silly and fun and hugely entertaining. Puts me a little bit in mind of the silliness of Psyche or Leverage. I really enjoyed Riley and Emerson, and I found the bad guys truly bad. I also enjoyed the way the plot played out. In the end, it all made sense, even though it was utterly fantastic. I recommend it.
Available on August 16th.
Second is not quite so good. I enjoy Pamela Claire’s I-Team books. They are steamy romance thrillers and quite fun. Barely Breathing is a new romance in a new setting–Colorado with Search and Rescue instead of SEAL types. Here’s the back of the book blurb:
Lexi Jewell left Scarlet Springs twelve years ago, vowing never to return to the small Colorado mountain town where she grew up. Now, here she is—over thirty, out of a job and with little choice but to move back in with her eccentric father. Lexi knows it’s just a matter of time before she runs into Austin Taylor, her first boyfriend and her first heartbreak. She’s determined to show him she’s over him—until he steps out of a pickup truck and back into her life, looking sexy as hell in his mountain ranger uniform.
As far as Austin is concerned, Lexi can turn her snazzy little convertible around and drive back to Chicago. After all, she ripped his teenage heart to pieces and turned her back on the town he loves. But from the moment he sees her again, he can’t get her out of his mind. Even her smile messes with his head.
When an evening of conversation turns into something else, Lexi and Austin agree to be friends—with benefits. But as Lexi starts making plans to return to the big city, Austin realizes he’ll lose her a second time unless he can show her that what she’s searching for has been right here all along.
What works really well is the romance. Totally believable–the backstory, the current story, the friendships that surround the two lovers, and the progression of their love story. Lexi’s relationship with her father and step-mother also works really well. It’s difficult and painful and has no easy solution. So why don’t I like this better? I’ll tell you. It’s the sex. Don’t get me wrong, I like steamy romance. I like sex in books. But this book threw me. I know Claire was trying to capture the ‘modern male’ and the raunchy language, which I also don’t mind. But in my sex scenes, I really don’t want to read about pussies (the vagina variety) or plush lips or plump lips (of the kissing variety). Or saliva. It’s so . . . not romantic, I guess. I also really hate it when characters talk about their lovers as a good fuck. Or say something to the effect of, I’m going to fuck her later. It makes the romance tawdry and it feels like hooking-up, rather than not. At some point, they call each other fuck-buddies. Again, makes sense with the friends with benefits thing, but it just throws me out of the story.
What Claire does do well is wrap the raunchy elements up with romantic descriptions of the emotions and physical feelings, which redeems those scenes a bit for me.
Anyhow, much of the story I enjoyed, but there were a lot of sex scenes, a lot of pussy and plush and plump and possible some perky, and then the fucking. If you don’t mind any of that, then this is an excellent book. If you do, well, skip those scenes?